Choosing a business legal structure is an integral part of setting up any business, even if it is a small business. Business structure types are important because they set the course for how your business operates. These structures also determine the ultimate success or failure of the business. There are many business structure types and the one you choose will depend on what you hope to accomplish with your business. The different types include sole proprietor, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability company, and cooperative corporation. Each one of these structures has advantages and disadvantages.
- Sole proprietor: This business legal structure allows owners to be called just that – “sole proprietor.” Under this business structure, all of the business assets revert to the owner and they are responsible for doing all of the business dealings. This includes deciding what they will sell, whom they will sell to and how they will report their income and expenses. The reason that sole proprietor business models are so popular is that they allow for maximum flexibility. While they usually result in higher income taxes, the owner may also be able to establish a personal retirement account and use that income to supplement their wages.
- Limited liability company: Another popular business structure is a limited liability company. Like a sole proprietor structure, it allows owners to divide the business and take full credit for the income and expenses of the business. However, they do not have the same protection from lawsuits as sole proprietor status holders. Owners may still be personally liable for their business losses, even if they are not named as the sole owner. They can also not run the business under a name they may feel comfortable with.
- Corporation: One of the oldest business structures is a corporation. Corporations have advantages over other structures, most notably their ability to pass corporate responsibilities and debts down to their partners. They are very popular among business owners who want some tax benefits, such as those enjoyed by corporations. However, they have a lot of disadvantages, including having to pay taxes on their income just like sole proprietors and limited liability entities.
- Partnerships: Just as there are many different business structure types, there are also many different partnership arrangements. For example, partnerships can be divided into general partnerships and limited partnerships. General partnerships create an alliance between two or more business owners. Limited partnerships are set up as transactions in which only one partner owns the partnership. A set of these partnerships are called LLCs (limited liability companies) and are considered by many to be the best business structure options available today.
- Formalized Contracts: One of the most important business structures is contract construction. All business contracts should be created formally. This includes everything from purchase agreements to patent registration. A contract is considered “formal” if it meets all of the following requirements: it is signed by all parties involved, it is executed under the law, and it provides for the transfer of legal rights to one party from another. There are business structures that do not include any of these elements, but these are not necessary to start a business.
Another element of business planning is creating a legal structure, or business structure if you prefer. For example, in a corporation, all of the shareholders are legally bound to follow the corporation’s policies. In addition, the corporation is itself protected by the various laws and jurisdictions that surround it. If you own a business, you are probably aware of the importance of building your business plan, which is essentially your road map to success. In a business plan, you will outline the steps you plan to take to become successful. The most important part of this section is what you call your business, which will be your company’s unique legal structure.
Business structure can be as simple as a partnership (one business owner forms another), or as complex as incorporating your own company and having several different business entities. However, in either case, the important thing to remember is that the business needs to be clearly defined and the various aspects of its structure should be clearly outlined so there are no surprises later on. It is also very important that your business has a set of core principles that are used to guide its business decisions, which are known as the business goals. These are called the business objectives. Without these things in place, you run the risk that your business will fail, because it cannot make informed business decisions.